Novel insights from coleopteran and pollen evidence into the Lateglacial/Holocene transition in Aubrac, French Massif Central

Philippe Ponel, Frédéric Guiter, Emmanuel Gandouin, Christine Pailles, Patrick Rioual, Morteza Djamali, Valérie Andrieu-Ponel, Michelle Leydet, Nathalie Van der Putten, Jacques Louis de Beaulieu

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The aim of this study is to describe the environmental and climate changes that occurred in the mountains of Aubrac at the transition between the Lateglacial and the Holocene, from a comparative analysis of fossil Coleoptera and pollen, and a series of 23 14C dates. The changes affecting the ecological categories of Coleoptera lead to a division of the sequence into 5 beetle assemblage zones (BAZ): the lowermost BAZ A is characterized by extremely poor assemblages (periglacial environment); BAZ B (Oldest Dryas and Lateglacial Interstadial) is marked by regular occurrences of taxa associated with open environments, aquatic taxa associated with running and highly oxygenated water, and cold adapted taxa with relatively low numbers; BAZ C (Younger Dryas) corresponds to two important events: a particular abundance of cold adapted taxa and a marked decrease of running water taxa, beetles associated with herbaceous vegetation and open environments are also well represented; BAZ D (Early Holocene) corresponds to the total disappearance of cold adapted taxa; the transition BAZ C/BAZ D is marked also by a dramatic peak of running water taxa; the uppermost BAZ E (Early/Mid Holocene) is marked by a total absence of running water taxa which are replaced by standing water or taxa tolerant of a range of water conditions, a particular abundance of wetland taxa, and taxa associated with herbaceous vegetation and open environments. Beetle and pollen data suggest that the harsh climatic conditions prevailing in the Aubrac mountains did not allow warm dependent fauna and trees to establish during the Lateglacial Interstadial, at least in the Roustières region, and that wide open landscapes occupied the plateau at that time. The Older Dryas, a cold spell previously recorded at La Taphanel (Cantal), is not visible in the Roustières record, probably because of the higher altitude at Roustières, whereas the Younger Dryas is strongly expressed. During the Holocene, concordant beetles and pollen data enable to reconstruct the rapid recolonization of the plateau by mesophilous trees (Ulmus, Quercus), suggesting the possible presence of refugia to the southern slopes of the Aubrac plateau. Insect/pollen comparisons provide evidence for hydrological changes in the former lake of Roustières and suggest that lacustrine water level changes often used as indicator of precipitation regime changes should be taken with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-102
Number of pages20
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geology


  • Coleoptera
  • Holocene
  • Lateglacial
  • Massif central
  • Palaeoenvironments
  • Pollen


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